chili powder

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.


Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

We’re constantly trying to add new legume-inspired recipes to our repertoire. After all, how can one be almost vegetarian without eating beans? I think, perhaps, that we don’t feature black-eyed peas as we should. Recently Steven made a delicious black-eyed peas and polenta dish. Every now and then I make a brown rice and black-eyed pea risotto that’s quite enjoyable. Black-eyed peas are delightful in croquettes, certainly. But all told, that’s only a few measly (albeit wonderful) ways of preparing something that’s so versatile, flavorful and nutritious.

So today’s inspiration comes from Indian cuisine. I’ve been following Manjula’s Kitchen for a while now and am blown away by the many creative ways she employs beans and pulses. This recipe is based on one from her blog. I made a few adaptations. We loved it.

the sunset on the night we enjoyed Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

the sunset on the night we enjoyed Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

2 cups dry black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked in water for ½ hour then drained
1/8 tsp asafedida
2 tbsp canola oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
¾ tsp mango powder
¼ tsp garam masala
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
Sea salt to taste

for the curry paste:

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp chili powder
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds partially removed
2 tbsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder

Add all ingredients for the curry paste to a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water and whiz into a paste.

Add canola oil to pressure cooker. Bring temperature to high. Add cumin seeds and cook until aromatic, about a minute or so. Add asafetida followed by the curry paste. Cook on medium temperature until raw flavors are gone and oil floats on the surface of the curry paste. Toss in black eyed-peas with 3 cups of water. Cover pressure cooker, and when it starts whistling, turn temperature down and continue cooking for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let pan cool down. Check for doneness. The beans should be soft. If not return pan to burner and cook a little longer.

Add tomatoes, salt, garam masala, mango powder and continue cooking, uncovered, just long enough to warm tomatoes through. Add cilantro, adjust salt and serve. We had this stew with a side of Japanese rice cooked Brazilian style.


spicy urad dal soup

by Heguiberto on February 9, 2012

spicy urad dal soup

spicy urad dal soup

Every now and then I try recipes from the journal, Gastronomica, published by UC Berkeley. I’m a big fan of this academic culinary periodical. Primarily the articles are stuff related to food history and culture. Their subjects are always off the beaten path. I savor each of issue.

Here’s what it says on Gastronomica’s about page:

Since 2001 we’ve been renewing the connection between sensual and intellectual nourishment by offering readers a taste of passionate inquiry through scholarship, humor, fiction, poetry, and exciting visual imagery. With its diverse voices and eclectic mix of articles, Gastronomica uses food as an important source of knowledge about different cultures and societies, provoking discussion and encouraging thoughtful reflection on the history, literature, representation, and cultural impact of food. The fact is, the more we know about food, the greater our pleasure in it. Welcome to our table!

And it is true! And no, I’m not receiving a cash payment for promoting this quarterly. Though if a check arrives in the mail I won’t be too sad about it.

Alas, what does all this flattery have to do with today’s post? Before we started this blog (that seems like a while ago!) I made a dosa recipe from a lovely article I read in the magazine etitled The Masala Dosas in My Life.

That one called for a small amount of split urad dal, but overenthusiastic, I bought a large bag. After having stored it in the pantry “for a while,” it was time to get inspired again. This urad dal soup has some of the features of my other red dal soup but with a creamier texture. This was excellent and I really don’t know why it took me so long to prepare this gourmet pulse.

I found a great pic of several kinds of urad dal on this excellent site, Manjula’s Kitchen, which I’m re-posting here.

several kinds of urad dal

several kinds of urad dal

spicy urad dal soup

2 cups split and hulled urad dal, picked over and rinsed
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 small russet potatoes, skin on, quartered
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 white onion, chopped
2 Serrano chili peppers, minced (seeds and ribs removed partially)
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 branch curry leaves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 28oz can unseasoned chopped tomatoes and juices
Kosher salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Put dal, turmeric powder and 6 cups of water in a saucepan. Place it on stove, temperature on high and boil for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove any foam that may form at the top. Add carrots, celery and potatoes and continue cooking until everything becomes soft. Add more water if needed. Keep it warm.

Meanwhile put oil, mustard and cumin seeds in a large skillet on high. Cook until aromatic and mustard seeds start to pop. Add onions, Serrano chili and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic, ginger, bay and curry leaves. Continue cooking until raw aromas of the garlic and ginger are gone. Next add coriander and chili powders and salt. Give it a good stir. Fold in tomatoes, add a cup of water, stir and cook for about 12 minutes on medium temperature. Mix it in the dal, taste and adjust salt. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Just before serving, transfer half of the soup to a bowl. Using a stick blender, blend everything together then return it back to the pot to thicken the soup a bit. Add chopped cilantro and serve! We had it with Brazilian style rice though it would also be excellent with roti.


fish biryani

by Heguiberto on November 8, 2011

This is our recipe for the biryani cook-off that the delightful Heavenly was so good to sponsor. Though after making this marvelous, complex dish; I’m starting to think that she might have been misnamed, as it appears that a tiny bit of a devilish streak lies hidden among all that domestic goodness and glamour. Have you ever seen one of those cartoons with the good angel and the bad angel sitting on the main character’s shoulders, giving opposite confusing advice? Then you know where I’m coming from here.

fish biryani

fish biryani

Okay I always promise myself whenever I’m about to cook Indian that I’ll get the spices out first, so I don’t get mixed up or forget anything, then proceed to the actual cooking adventure. But no, I didn’t do that again! Perhaps that was my evil angel’s counsel. I got dizzy from relentlessly having to go back and forth to the pantry and spinning the lazy-susan over and over and over again to locate the next needed spice for this dish. How funny that now that we have a new kitchen with a dedicated place for spices, I still find myself unable to find anything. I hope that one day they add some computerized artificial intelligence with a soothing voice to kitchen cabinets that will both find anything that I want via verbal-command and will calm me with his/her flattery and encouragement as I freak out at the stovetop. Then no more getting lost in the aromatic black hole I call my spice cabinet.

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

I must confess I think I have never made a dish that was so complicated. Lots of steps! I quite liked the result, but this was an effort. I am going to test the recipe again using spices in different proportions. I feel sure each time it will come out tasting slightly differently, so I can mix it up some. I’m excited to read about everyone else’s versions in the cook-off. You should be too. Follow these links for the other “contestants’” biryani masterpieces.

Heavenly Housewife from donuts to delirium
Vanessa from sweet artichoke
Glamorous Glutton
moinetteTeczcape: An Escape to Food
Laura from healthyjalapeno

fish biryani

Make Masala powder first. See below for recipe.

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

for the rice:

2 cup basmati rice
1 bay leaf
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
Few peppercorns
¼ tsp kosher salt

Soak rice in plenty of water for about one hour. Drain. Place rice in a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Drop in salt, bay leaf, pepper corn, and parboil the rice for about 10 minutes. Do not overcook it! Drain and set aside.

for the fish:

1 lb monkfish cut into individual pieces, or any other firm white fish
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Masala powder*
1tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp kosher salt

Make a paste by mixing lemon juice, garlic and ginger paste, salt and powders. Rub on fish pieces and marinate for about ½ hour. Keep it refrigerated if your kitchen gets too hot.

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

for the Masala sauce:

1 large onion, cut into thin half moon slices
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Serrano peppers, minced, ribs and seeds partially removed
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
A few mint leaves, julienned
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp fresh garlic paste
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
2 tbsp Masala powder *
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
½ tsp allspice powder
¼ tsp clove powder
¼ tsp onion seeds
1½ cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
A few strands saffron
1 tsp sugar

Add oil to a large skillet followed by onion and minced Serrano pepper. Cook until onion becomes wilted and translucent. Push onion to the side of skillet. Add ginger and garlic pastes, ajwain seeds, bay leaf, black peppercorn, Aleppo pepper, Masala powder, turmeric, allspice and clove powder, saffron, onion seeds, sugar and cook until raw smells dissipate. Add tomato, stir everything together and cook until tomatoes begin to dissolve. Mix yogurt with half cup of water and fold into the sauce. Carefully lay fish pieces over the Masala sauce, cover pan and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Mix in cilantro and mint leaves.

At this point heat up the oven to 450F.

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

*for the Masala powder for fish

5 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks ~3 inch each
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin leaves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp ground coriander

Place cloves, cardamom, fennel and bay leaf in a saucepan; put it over burner over high heat. Dry roast spices for a few minutes until aromatic, being careful not to burn it. Transfer to a coffee grinder and pulverize. Mix in ground nutmeg and coriander. (My coriander was already ground, if you have seeds use them instead).

to assemble the fish biryani:

Using an oven-proof baking dish with a cover, assemble the biryani with one layer of rice, followed by a layer of fish masala, and finish with the remaining Masala sauce. Repeat so you end up with three or four layers of all ingredients. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. The rice will finish cooking in the masala sauce without becoming overly cooked. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

If you haven’t had enough fish biryani yet, look here, here and here for other related versions.


Paneer Makhanwala

by Heguiberto on March 21, 2011

Suhas and I have lunch together almost every day in my company’s communal kitchen. We chat about most anything but inevitably the subject veers towards food, our favorite topic. He tells me about India and Indian food, the flavors and ingredients from different regions. I love it. In turn I talk about our blog and what we’ve been cooking.

Paneer Makhanwala

Paneer Makhanwala over rice

The other day he surprised me with a block of paneer, a type of Indian cheese, and a pre-packaged spice mix to make panner makhanwala. He’s really kind that way. In the past when I wasn’t able to find curry leaves in San Francisco for my Rasam soup he came to my rescue with some from his local Indian store in San Jose. Thank you, Suhas!

About the paneer and spice mix, he said that whenever his wife wants to prepare a quick satisfying Indian meal without having to spend hours in the kitchen, she reaches for this. The whole family loves it, especially the kids. Not that you need to but she suggests that with a bit of doctoring she can turn out amazing Makhanwalas in no time. I’m with her there. I almost always change things around when working with packaged ingredients. Do you?

Makhanwala is made with onions, cashew nut, tomato and milk powders, coriander, red chili, and other spices. Following Suhas wife’s advice I added fresh garlic, fresh ginger, more ground cashew nut and dry fenugreek. The dish came out so good with a silky, creamy and mellow flavor balanced with a bit of exciting heat. It only took about 40 minutes, which is almost fast-food for Indian. Steven was amazed 🙂

Are you ready to make your own paneer makhanwala?

ingredients for my doctored Paneer Makhanwala

ingredients for my doctored Paneer Makhanwala

Paneer Makhanwala

¾ lb paneer cut into small triangles
1 pack panner makhanwala spice mix
4 tomatoes, chopped fine
2 cups fresh frozen mixed veggies, your preference, steamed al dente
2 green bell peppers, cut up in 1inch squares
1 tbsp ground fresh ginger
8 cloves garlic, mashed
1 white onion, chopped fine
1/3 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp canola oil.
1/3 cup raw cashew nut, ground into a paste with a bit of water
Kosher salt to taste

Begin by sautéing onion in canola oil until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and salt. Continue sautéing for a few minutes more until raw flavors are gone. Don’t burn it. Add tomatoes, fenugreek, chili powder, bell pepper. Cook until tomatoes collapse. Fold in makhanwala mix, cashew nut paste,veggies and panner. Bring to a boil, reduce temp and simmer for about 5-10 minutes stirring every now and then to prevent sticking. Serve it over rice with Indian pickled pepper and mango chutney. Yumm!


my spicy chana recipe

by Heguiberto on August 28, 2009

Chana is the Indian name for chick pea or garbanzo bean. My recipe is inspired by a wonderful chick pea dish called Kaabli Chana that I order from Rotee Express, an Indian restaurant that I go to for lunch every now and then. This restaurant is conveniently located around the corner from my office on Howard and Spear in San Francisco. Since I really love the place, that’s great for me!

my spicy chana recipe

my spicy chana recipe

I don’t actually know their recipe so mine turned out a little spicier than theirs. Nevertheless it’s delicious! I think they use ghee but I wanted to go vegan so left it out. I think that the dish is already full of flavor anyways.

Chana is an excellent source of protein and combined with my delicious carrot cumin basmati rice it was a perfect meal. Don’t be scared to cook Indian. It’s true that there’re a lot of unusual spices and names to get the hang of and I do sometimes feel like a mad scientist in a culinary laboratory. But it’s super fun, and the results are always rewarding.

My Spicy Chana Recipe


2 cup cooked chick peas (chana)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
A few cloves
3 cardamom pods
3 medium onions, peeled
few pepper corns
5 ripe Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger ground into paste
Pinch of turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
2 tsp Sambar* for extra spice, extra kick and thickening
½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt to taste
1 to 2 cup hot water

*Sambar is a spice mix from South India made with coriander seeds, besan flour (chick-pea flour), fenugreek, black pepper, mustard seeds, chili powder, turmeric, cinnamon, curry leaves, asafetida and amchur powder (mango powder). You can find it at Indian specialty stores.

How to:

Place tomatoes, 2 onions, minced garlic, and ginger in food processor and pulse till puréed, then reserve. Cut remaining onion into thin slices. Heat oil in a non-stick pan; add cardamom pods, bay leaf, pepper corns and cloves cook for about 1 minute till fragrant. Add onion and sauté till soft and translucent but do not burn it. Add puréed tomato mix, turmeric and salt. Cook on high heat stirring constantly for 18-20 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, chili pepper and Sambar, give it a good stir. The powdered spices will soak up the juices and make a thick mass. Keep stirring it for few more minutes. Add chana, about 1 and ½ cup water and simmer on medium heat for another 10-12 minutes, stirring few times. The dish should have a thick consistency like a hearty marinara sauce. Adjust salt. Toss in cilantro and serve over rice.

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a homemade Indian banquet

by Heguiberto on April 28, 2009

Have you ever wondered about cooking Indian food at home? Well it’s not as hard as you think, though it does take a little planning. At this Indian dinner, I served six traditional dishes from southern India. That probably sounds like a lot and it did take a few hours to prepare everything. Fortunately, many Indian dishes improve with sitting, so they can be made early. Also, these are relatively inexpensive dishes because they’re all vegetarian.

some Indian spices

some Indian spices

I’ve cooked Indian before so already had most of the spices that were needed. These can be found at many conventional supermarkets and specialty food stores. I like to go to an Indian market in the San Francisco Mission area at 548 Valencia Street called Bombay Bazar for hard-to-find Indian ingredients. That’s where I got the paneer (Indian cheese) and the pre-made mango chutney that I served as a side dish. For the rest of the fresh ingredients, I went to one of the many local Mexican markets in the same neighborhood.

Heguiberto frying stuffed peppers

Heguiberto frying stuffed peppers

I found the recipes I used on a variety of web sites and modified them to suit my taste. For a party of seven we had: an Ayurvedic recipe of mixed bean sprouts and corn salad, an Andhra garlicy tomato curry, an eggplant curry, mirchi bajji or stuffed anaheim peppers deep fried, a cabbage vepudu (a type of spicy cooked cabbage salad) and paneer byriani (a rice dish with marinated paneer, green beans and rice). I offered mango and date chutneys as condiments. Because many of the dishes are fairly spicy, they were served with champagne, rose and a Spanish red brought by two of the guests that could stand the heat. For dessert we had a chocolate cake brought by another guest with tea and a sweet liquor.

paneer byriani

paneer byriani

The meal was tremendous; and the company, wonderful. My highest compliment came from the one guest of Indian descent. She had grown up back East with many of these dishes served to her by her mother. She thought that the food was “amazing.”

I highly recommend that you venture out of your comfort zone into Indian cooking. It’s not that hard, really fun and the results are worth it.

homemade Indian banquet

homemade Indian banquet

Garlicky Tomato Curry Recipe

10 fresh ripe skinned Roma tomatoes chopped fine
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
10-12 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder or more for spicier finish
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp grated jaggery (palm sugar) or substitute with dark brown sugar
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
2 tbsp canola oil

1- Heat oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. About 2 minutes. Add
crushed garlic and curry leaves, sauté for further 10 seconds.
2 Add onions, sauté until translucent. Add chili, turmeric and coriander powders as well as salt. Stir to combine.
3- Add chopped tomatoes, plus sugar and cook uncovered on high heat stirring constantly for about 10-15 min. I used a non-stick pan for the job.
5- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves

Mirchi Bajji (stuffed deep fried green peppers)

9 Anaheim peppers, cut lengthwise seeds and ribs removed.
Canola oil for frying


1 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp chaat masala (spice blend of dried mango, cumin, salt, coriander, black pepper, asafetida and hot paprika/chili)
3 medium potatoes cooked in salted water and roughly mashed
¼ to ½ tsp chili powder
½ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp tamarind pulp

Heat oil and sauté onion for 4-5 minutes, add ginger and spices, stir. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes more stirring constantly. Set aside


1 cup chick pea flour (gram flour)
¼ cup rice flour
Pinch baking soda
½ tsp cumin
Black pepper
1 cup water

Wisk all ingredients together, it should have a pancake consistency

Stuff peppers with the potato mixture. Dip one by one into the batter coating them well on all sides and drop
them gently into hot oil (3 at the time). Fry each batch for about 5-6 minutes.

Mixed Sprouts Corn Salad Recipe

1 cup mixed legume sprouts of your choice (chick peas, beans, pigeon peas)
1 cup of steamed sweet corn (from 2 ears)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp walnut oil
1/2 tsp of freshly pan roasted cumin powder
pinch of black pepper powder
Juice of 2-3 limes
Pinch of chili pepper powder
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
1 container of sprouts (pea or daikon)

1- Steam legume sprouts for 8-9 minutes or longer if you like it softer, let it cool to room temperature, add corn and daikon/pea sprouts

2-Prepare cumin seeds as follows: Add cumin seeds to a hot pan and roast it till fragrant (few seconds) Careful not to burn them. Transfer to a mortar or food grinder. Grind into a fine powder. It makes a big difference in flavor

3- Prepare dressing by mixing together ginger, salt, chili, cumin, black pepper, lemon juice and walnut oil

4- Pour dressing over sprouts mix, adjust seasoning and serve with cilantro

Cabbage Vepudu Recipe


3 cups chopped cabbage
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder (adjust)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
big pinch cumin powder
chopped cilantro
2-3 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 minced cloves garlic
4 fresh curry leaves (optional)

How to:
1-Boil a quart of water with a pinch of turmeric, add cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes just to wilt it. Drain and reserve.
2- Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and toast them (about 1 minute). Add chopped onion and sauté it until translucent. Add garlic and curry leaves keep sautéing for few more seconds.
3-Stir in chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, add cabbage, mix well cooking for further 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro

Paneer Biryani

1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed till water runs clear

3 and ¾ cups of water
1 cup paneer (Indian cheese) in cubes

1/4 cup fresh/frozen pea
1/4 cup green beans
1 tsp chili powder
a pinch turmeric powder
3-4 strands coriander leaves
5 tbsp Canola oil
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cardamom pods

1 bay leaf
3 green chilies (Serrano or Jalapeño), seeded and ribbed
½ inch of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
few strands saffron


Spice (grind into powder):
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cloves
½ inch of a cinnamon stick
1 tsp poppy seeds
5-6 peppercorns


1-Using a bowl mix 3 tbsp of yogurt, turmeric, 1tsp of spice powder and salt. Add paneer cubes and marinate for about 2 hours

2-Heat 3tbs canola oil, add cardamom pods, bay leaf, rice and salt, sauté rice mixture for 3 minutes. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of water let it boil, reduce heat to minimum, cover the pan and let it cook till water has evaporated about 10-15 min, remove from heat. Let it rest, covered, for 5 min.
3- Heat 1 tbs of canola oil, transfer paneer to pan and brown them a bit (about 5 minutes), put aside in a bowl.

4- Using a food processor or a mortar grind into a paste the green chilies, garlic and ginger.

5-In the same pan used for browning the paneer, add 1 tbsp of canola oil, the paste, the vegetables and sauté till the raw smell is gone (5-10 min). Add yogurt and any leftover juices from marinate plus some salt and stir. Sprinkle about ½ tsp of spice powder and cilantro over it.

6- Assemble the Biryani on a baking dish (Pyrex) layering half of the rice at the bottom, followed by the paneer and veggies. Cover with remaining rice and sprinkle saffron threads over it. Poor 1 cup of water over rice, wrap the dish with aluminum foil and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes at 300F

Eggplant pulusu (eggplant and tamarind pulp)

1 very large eggplant
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ cup of thick tamarind pulp
2 green chilies, finely chopped (leave the seeds and ribs out if you don’t want it very spicy)
1 and ½ tbsp of brown sugar or grated palm sugar (jaggery)
Chopped cilantro to taste
1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste

2 red chilies (Italian pepperoncini) broken into pieces seeds removed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida– (called hing or ingua in India)
5 fresh curry leaves
4 tbsp canola oil

1- Grease the eggplant with part of the oil and roast/bake it in the over till it collapses. Rotate it few times just to ensure even baking. Remove and let it cool down. Peel skin off and mash eggplant into a pulp.
2-Add to eggplant pulp the chopped onions, green chilies, tamarind extract, sugar or palm sugar and salt. Combine well to form a thick paste.
3-Heat remaining oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add cumin seeds, red chili (pepperoncini), and asafetida and curry leaves followed by the eggplant pulp, stir it for 3-5 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro leaves
Recipes adapted from blog:

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